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Top 5 Sochi Attractions

A very ancient stone cathedral, fine arts and Soviet cars museums, a winter theatre and an exotic arboretum. The Culture.ru web portal picked top 5 must-see attractions in Sochi.

Photo courtesy of Julia Baturina / Photobank Lori

The Sochi Arboretum

The arboretum was opened in Sochi in the late 19th century. In 1889, Sergey Khudekov, a researcher of exotic plants, bought 135 acres of land at the slope of the Lysaya Mountain, and built a villa there that he called Nadezhda after his wife. The researcher also created a park with subtropical plants there.

Today, the arboretum covers the surface of 49 hectares. Pines, cypresses, giant gumtrees and sequoias, various types of bamboo and other plants grow there. In the lower part of the park, there is a pond and an aquarium with inhabitants of the Red Sea in it. The top vantage point of the arboretum can be reached by a cableway.

The Sochi Arts Museum

The history of the Sochi Arts Museum started in October 1976, when an Exhibition Hall was opened in the city. It was located in a 1936 building in Stalin's "Empire" style. The Exhibition Hall employees formed the collection and gathered art works for a few years, and in 1988, the Exhibition Hall was granted the status of a museum.

In the Arts Museum, one can find ancient bladed weapons, antique silver, Russian icons from the 8th century until present day, a collection of paintings and drawings of the 19th and 20th centuries that includes works by Ivan Aivazovsky, Vasily Polenov, Ivan Shishkin, Lev Lagorio, Mikhail Clodt, Konstantin Bogaevsky. The exposition also includes arts and crafts items: clay toys, lace, embroidery, porcelain tableware and figurines.

The Cathedral of St. Michael the Archangel

The Cathedral of St. Michael the Archangel is the oldest stone building in Sochi and the main orthodox cathedral of the city. Its construction started in 1874 upon the project of the Muscovite architect Aleksandr Kaminsky. However, the construction took longer than expected and was only finished 16 years later. The eclectic-style building was decorated on the outside with stucco cornices and bas-reliefs. By the early 20th century, a whole architectural complex called the Church District grew around the cathedral. It included a chapel, a refectory, a Sunday school and gardens.

In the Soviet times, there was a grain storage barn in the cathedral. It was only restored by 1995. The architect Fyodor Afuksenidi supervised the works. He restored the original look of the cathedral and its interior according to Kaminsky’s drawings and designs.
In 1996, an Our Lady of Iveron Christening Church was built next to the cathedral, and in 2008, the Blessing of the Waters Chapel in tribute to the icon of Our Lady ‘Life-Giving Spring’ was added to the complex.

The Sochi Vintage Cars Museum

The Vintage Cars Museum was opened in the Sochi Olympic Park in 2015. Its collection includes over 100 Soviet cars manufactured from the 1930s to 1990s. In the museum, one can see cars of the time of the Great Patriotic War, government transport, fire trucks and police cars, models of popular Soviet models: Zhiguli, Moskvitch and Volga. The museum’s exposition also includes rare exhibits, for example, medical vehicle GAZ-14C and the car ‘Moskvitch-214250 Duet’, which were only manufactured in 15 copies each; and the vehicle ZIL-41042, which is one of the museum’s exhibits, unlike the other models, has a one-piece fifth door. There were only eight vehicles like this one in the USSR.

The Winter Theatre

The Sochi Winter Theatre was opened in 1938 with a premiere of Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov’s opera The Tsar's Bride. The building of the theatre was built in 1937 upon the project of the architect Konstantin Chernopyatov. The theatre is encircled with 88 Corinthian columns. The fronton over the entrance is decorated with sculptures by Vera Mukhina: the three ladies embody art, architecture and sculpture.

The Winter Theatre does not have its own troupe. It was created as a touring house for artists coming to Sochi. Apart from theatre shows and concerts, annual festivals and competitions are held there, including the ‘Kinotavr’ Film Festival, the Denis Matsuev, Yury Bashmet and Igor Butman Music Festivals, ‘Kinotavrik’ Children’s Arts and Sports Festival.

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